Unverified Voracity Slashes Shields

Submitted by Brian on May 7th, 2012 at 3:44 PM


Half-shields look cooler. End of story.

Shields. College hockey's been moving towards the use of partial shields for a couple years now and it sounds like in the next couple years we could see that come to fruition. The hockey community is for it, but they have to convince the NCAA they're not going to cause a murder spree. Their attempt:

"When we first raised the issue with the Health and Safety Committee, they were very negative," Kelly said. "By the end of the meeting in November, the pendulum had swung significantly and they are far more open minded on the idea."

"Give credit, the folks in the room definitely listened," rules committee chair Ed McLaughlin, the athletic director at Niagara, said. "They said, 'Tell us why you believe this.' It was a huge hurdle we got over. Going in I thought, if it's not 'no' it's a major accomplishment."

Boston University's Parker has long been an outspoken critic of the NCAA's policy, even moreso since his player, Travis Roy, was paralyzed in an on-ice accident during the first shift of his college career, in 1995.

"Jack Parker was very effective," Kelly said.

"Jack was fantastic," McLaughlin said. "He had a real impact with the group that was there."

They have no data, but assert that going away from full masks can't make things worse for anything except your lips—mouthguards would be required—and that's less of a big deal than getting hit in the head. At least they don't have, like, anti-data:

"(Data) doesn't show substantially less concussions," McLaughlin said, "but you can't prove more either. There's more facial lacerations, but not exponentially. The USHL hasn't had any catastrophic eye injuries or neck injuries, and we've had some in college hockey."

I've always thought the argument that the full shields in college hockey made the game more violent was ridiculous. The things you can't do in the pros are still penalties in college. Maybe the (usual) lack of fighting does make people bolder, but I'm dubious about that as well. Violent acts like the Tropp incident are met with stiff suspensions. Hockey's violent. This doesn't do anything to help player safety. If you want to make an impact on that, you have to improve the refereeing.

It may help with the constant war with junior in a tiny way, and that's probably why this is going forward.

Good hands. When is the last time anyone could have made a list of best Big Ten assistants and grabbed both of Michigan's coordinators?

Offensive coordinator: Al Borges, Michigan. What more can be said about Borges? The guy has an unmatched resume that includes stops as coordinator at Indiana, Auburn, UCLA, Oregon, Cal and Boise State, among others. Borges has shown an ability to adapt his West Coast attack at Michigan to conform to the skills of quarterback Denard Robinson. Smart man. The result, an 11-2 season in 2011, as the Wolverines also produced two 1,000-yard rushers for the first time since 1975. Why isn’t this guy a head coach?
Others: Matt Canada, Wisconsin; Greg Davis, Iowa; Tom Herman, Ohio State; Matt Limegrover, Minnesota; Bill O’Brien, Penn State

Defensive coordinator: Greg Mattison, Michigan. The numbers speak for themselves. After spending three years in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, Mattison returned to Michigan. And his impact was deep and immediate. His unit ranked second in the Big Ten and sixth in nation in scoring defense (17.4 ppg). Remarkable numbers when you consider where the defense was before he arrived. Mattison has coached 18 NFL players and had seven of his protégés taken in the first three rounds of the draft and two first-round selections.
Others: Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State; Ted Roof, Penn State; Everett Withers, Ohio State.

When's the last time Michigan would have gotten even one on the list? 1997? Yeah. Probably 1997. Even if Borges probably would have finished second to Paul Chryst if he hadn't taken the Pitt job, it's been a long time since it seems like both sides of the ball were in good hands.

It's, like, interrelated, man, like the cosmos. The Only Colors discovers that the generally-applicable fact that passing efficiency is the stat best correlated with winning applies to the Big Ten, too:

Yeah, but that's all NFL stuff. And besides, the NFL formula is different than the NCAA formula. How do I know that those insights carry over, especially to the Big Ten?

Cause I got some mighty fine data. Spreadsheet time:

2011 Big Ten Season
Teams Off PR Def PR Net Wins
Wisconsin 186.2 120.45 65.75 11
Michigan State 144.29 113.24 31.05 11
Michigan 139.18 120.48 18.7 11
Northwestern 155.88 139.99 15.89 6
Illinois 123.52 117.91 5.61 7
Nebraska 125.78 120.42 5.36 9
Iowa 136.62 132.87 3.75 7
Ohio State 127.8 126.75 1.05 6
Purdue 122.81 126.05 -3.24 7
Penn State 101.95 107.2 -5.25 9
Minnesota 108.97 148.81 -39.84 3
Indiana 111.91 156.79 -44.88 1

-In the top tier, you have three teams who clearly separated themselves from the pack with their net ratings at 1, 2, and 3 (including the BTCCG participants at a clear 1-2), as well as an outlier at 4, Northwestern, who let several games slip away late.

-in the middle tier, you have the middle class of the Big Ten in 2011, plus Nebraska, all clumped within 4 net points of each other, very far away from the best and worst teams in the conference.

-then in the bottom tier, you have the only four teams with negative Passer Rating Differentials, with Purdue and Penn State (the other outlier) chilling a handful of points below zero, and the two obvious worst teams in the Big Ten, Minnesota and Indiana, both sporting truly terrible PRDs.

In all, in 2011, there was a very strong .85 correlation between a teams PRD and its total wins. Correlation is not causation and all that but still, .85 yo.

This is all true, but I don't think that tells you that passing is more important than running. Take last year's Michigan offense for an example of a team where running drives the bus to the point where it makes the passing offense look better than it really is. An even rawer Denard Robinson put up the 20th-best passer rating in the country, one ten points better than his 2011. But Michigan ran 60% of the time and put up 5.6 YPC. When Michigan lost some of that mojo last year, Robinson's efficiency dropped correspondingly.

The biggest advantage passer rating has in these correlations between various traditional stats and wins is the fact that it's an efficiency measure. Yards gained in X fashion is a measure of both how much you did something and how good you were at it. Efficiency measures suck the "how much" out of the equation.

Side note: Good Lord has Penn State been hosed the last few years by their QB situation. If they can keep that defense operating at its previous efficiency level and have an offense run by grown-ups, they will be in business.

Etc.: Jehu Chesson sets a 300M hurdles meet record. Shane Morris gets his Elite 11 invite. Eamonn Brennan endorses "Little Big Dog" nickname for GRIII.



May 7th, 2012 at 3:57 PM ^

For you non-track people, Chesson's time of 37.66 in the 300h is really fast. Being a good low hurdler doesn't make you a speed demon, but you can't be slow and run that time. He's likely really fast.

turd ferguson

May 7th, 2012 at 4:54 PM ^

It seems like this calls for a slight recalibration of what to expect from Chesson (for the better, obviously).  He's about 6'3" and his hands are widely regarded as one of his strengths.  If he can translate that speed to the field, he could be a major contributor at a thin position.


May 7th, 2012 at 3:59 PM ^

But there is a passionate belief throughout college hockey that full shields impair peripheral and up-and-down vision... 

Question to Mgobloggers with hockey knowledge:  Is this true? 

I've been watching the NHL playoffs for pretty much the first time ever this year, and I've been wondering why guys don't wear full face shields (other than the obvious desire to show that they're tough).  I saw a Rangers player get hit in an unprotected part of his face with a puck last week.  I have to believe that getting hit there diminished his performance for the rest of his time on the ice.  Why not avoid suffering injuries? 



May 7th, 2012 at 4:07 PM ^

Some say vision is improved without masks, some like the feeling better, probably a lot of players like feeling less constricted, and a lot of them just go along with removing the mask as they move up levels. I have a scar between my eye and eyebrow from refereeing a Pee-Wee AAA game five years ago; I regret not having a half shield on, and we're talking about players who get the puck up to 1/2 or 1/3 of the speed in the NHL.

Brian, another big factor is ease of dropping gloves to fight. The additional suspensions for fighting in the NCAA will take care of some potential fights, but you're making it much easier by going to half or no shields. I personally don't care what they do, but that is something to be considered.


May 7th, 2012 at 4:20 PM ^

I briefly considered writing a diary about the topic of visors and college hockey a while back, but I just got too busy and it slipped my mind. Short version: Switching to visors would make a big difference in the NCAA vs CHL battle IMO. Full cages make it look like amateur hour and take away from the "cool" factor. These are 16-17 year old kids making decisions, they want to look cool. If that sounds ridiculous, then you don't remember what it's like to be 17.

J. Lichty

May 7th, 2012 at 11:00 PM ^

I have played with - full cage, half shield and nothing.  Its really not a tough thing, it really does make a difference playing without anything.

Once I left college I wore a half-shield for a couple years, and a league I played in a few years ago required shield or cage.  Fog factor was annoying, but once I began wearing the shield like a baseball hat visor I was able to manage, but not a fan of the visor, nor do I think it really protects you much more than nothing at all..  Split vision sensation was also weird. 

For most of the past decade and half I wore nothing.  Took sticthes here and there, but loved both the feeling and vision. A couple years ago I took 20 sticthes under the eye and my wife made me put on full cage.  After 2 years I am still not used to it.  I got a cage with the thin bars which has helped, but still feels like my vision is restricted.  I guess its worth the tradeoff at my age, but boy do I miss playing without anything.

Very few guys now a days wear no face mask.  Since I stopped only two of my teammates now dont wear anything.  A few of the young guys try it out once they can, but most of the guys who are in their late twenties to fifty wear at least a shield, with most wearing a full face.


May 8th, 2012 at 12:31 AM ^

I've been playing seriously since I was a little kid and I've never been tempted to switch to a half shield or nothing at all. Nothing against the many teammates I've had who prefer to wear as little protection as possible–that's their thing. But I've been hit in the face with enough elbows and sticks and pucks, and had enough friends get rushed to the ER to have their lips sewn back together than I think I'll hang onto my full cage.

I like to compare football and hockey because they're both inherently violent sports but they deal with the violence differently (each sport has had its successes and failures on the safety front…). So it helps me to switch up the sport for comparison here: it would be way easier for Denard to see the field without a facemask in front of his eyes, but he would be nuts to go without one. Maybe players wouldn't be so eager to hurl themselves at each other as hard as possible if they didn't wear masks? Seems pretty unlikely. But even if we say that would be the case, there would be so many more broken noses, injured eyes, etc.

Hockey's a pretty conservative sport–I mean it's incredible to me that Craig MacTavish played without a helmet recently enough that I have actual memories of it. I'm sure he and guys like him didn't want to wear helmets because they felt constricted and thought wearing helmets would make the game more reckless. Maybe, but I guess we're sort of past that at this point. BlueDragon, I'd say going to half shields is a step closer to the 20th century than the 21st.

Anyway, The shields do look more professional, no doubt, but shouldn't the schools be looking out for the kids who think they've seen the world but actually have no clue because they're 17?

Six Zero

May 8th, 2012 at 8:29 AM ^

for years and years, and then one summer signed into a league that required full face shield.  I had a full Itech cage lying around somewhere, but saw a good deal on a CCM/Leader retractable full visor and decided to try it out.

For me, I'm not a big fan.  The fog can be an issue no matter how well you supposedly treat it-- I even tried out the ol' toothpaste glaze method and it still got foggy when you got on the bench.  That's what made the retractable interesting-- you could pop it 'up' like a riot gear helmet.

As far as the 'playability' factor-- I thought it was a significant issue.  Felt boxed in, and peripheral awareness was compromised quite a bit.  It just kinda slowed me down, and I felt a step behind.

With that being said, I still own that HT2 helmet with the full cage on it, and I've noticed myself grabbing it more and more for open hockey and stuff like that as I get older.  I've already lost teeth and at this stage in my life it's just not worth it.  But if I was 17 or 18-- or more importantly, if my career and future was on the line-- I'd go no visor at all, no question.


May 7th, 2012 at 4:12 PM ^

Anyone else feel that the evaluation for Top O Coordinator spot is slightly if not significantly compromised by the inclusion of Tom Herman from Ohio? I know Paul Chryst would have won if he was at Wisconsin still, but Ohio had a terrible offense this year, and has an underachieving offense for a while. Could it have been the players he had to work with, particularly the lack of a viable QB? I guess you could say similar things about the Minnesota guy. Maybe a lot of this boils down to resume also and previous years, but it would seem to bode poorly for the Big Ten that Tom Herman is one of the best O Coordinators. Maybe need some better offensive minds.


May 7th, 2012 at 4:18 PM ^

And really couldn't come up with a year with two.  McCartney led to Mo on D, and when Mo came back he was on O. But till then, I'm not guessing Bo's offensive counterparts would have anyone excited about the "modern" offense they put together. And then you had Mattison. Terry Malone did a good job on O, but by then the defense wasn't a position you would brag about. So I'm beginning to see how guys who have been around the program for a long time think these are the best coordinators we've had in a LONG time are coming from.

And anyone else think this is horrible timing for the NCAA to be making this move with all the NFL worries going on right now? It's not the same thing, but it certainly doesn't look good.


May 7th, 2012 at 4:23 PM ^

Be careful. Ovechkin makes everything look cool.

Except winning the President's Cup and getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. That looks just as crappy when Ovie does it as when the Wings do it.


May 7th, 2012 at 4:24 PM ^

I enjoy Heck's work over at The Only Colors. And I liked that post.

To me, more than showing that pass efficiency differential is the one key telling, be all, end all stat, it shows that the key stats to hone in on are anything with a differential. More pundits and MSM media types need to talk about differentials, IMHE, as opposed to focusing on just the basic stats.

As it turns out, turnover margin and yards per carry differential had the same three teams, Wisco, MSU and MICH, occupying the top 3 spots. What a shock, the three best teams in the league a year ago did a lot of different things well. But its hard to swallow that we think coaches are dinosaur thinkers and wrong for wanting to run the football and stopping the run. How come Northwestern's #4 in pass efficiency differential didnt net more wins? Probably because they were one of 3 Big 10 teams (Minny and IU) with a negative yards per carry differential. They couldnt stop the run. Are we saying that Dantonio is wrong to focus on stopping the run? MSU's amazing 2.8 ypc against tells me he's dead correct about wanting to stop the run.

But MSU was a complete team with good to great numbers across the board in everything. NW was a flawed, incomplete team despite their top third passing efficiency differential. I guess I just dont think there is one critical stat. Good teams do a lot of different things well. If you suck at any one of the four (run, pass, stop the run, stop the pass), then you're probably not going to be anything more than average when the season is over.


Still in AA

May 7th, 2012 at 5:10 PM ^

I sit pretty close in the corner at Yost and I see a lot of sticks riding up and hitting facemasks that would be called penalties in the pros.  How many high sticking penalties do you remember getting called in the NCAA?  I think it's tough for the refs to tell because players don't react much to a quick shot to the facemask.


May 7th, 2012 at 5:19 PM ^

I prefer the Big Puppy over Little Big Dog.  I can definitely hear Bill Raftery calling him that.

As to passing efficiency, seeing as how  touchdown percentage and interception percentage are a big part of the calculation it shouldn't come as a surprise that it correlates with winning.


May 7th, 2012 at 5:37 PM ^

The passer efficiency stat is a good one, and one that is under utilized when talking college stats.  There was an article a couple of years ago at SI.com where they looked at the defensive mirror to that stat and found it was a better predictor of Super Bowl success that the offensive stat.  They called it Defensive Passer Rating, and it was an indicator of how well a team defended the pass.  The poorer that your oppenent's passer rating, the better you are doing on defense.  Over the last twenty five years, there was only a couple of teams that were not top five in defensive passer rating.

What this stat did was disbuse the notion that good defense is built around stopping the run.  The better you can reduce the other team's passing efficiency, the more likely you are to win.  This stat did not care the percentage of run to passing plays.  You are just more likely to win if you can reduce the other team's passing efficiency.  What would be interesting is that with the greater variance of offences in college football, if the same stat bears out.  My guess is that it does and that no matter how good your run based offense is, you still have to pass the ball well to win.

Hardware Sushi

May 7th, 2012 at 5:52 PM ^

The Jehu Chesson news is really exciting.

I'm trying to not drink too much of my own koolaid: I feel like we're getting two really underrated WRs in Darboh and Chesson.

Darboh was the #2 midwest guy behind Burbridge yet gets very little hype and Chesson just keeps getting good press from his track accomplishments.

I know there's a lot of anxiety among recruiting fans that we need to land Treadwell and another big name to put some talent on the outside; I don't really agree with that. Really looking forward to seeing these guys on the field...I hope they can contribute early.


May 7th, 2012 at 7:04 PM ^

you are very rude. Thank you for your incredibly insipid insight. Your brain must be sore from all that thinking. Borges is a offensive god and we will probably only have him for another year before he becomes a head coach. and you can bet your itty bitty brain on it (unless he enjoys coaching at Michigan which is my hope).


May 7th, 2012 at 7:11 PM ^

He's still pissed we fired Rodriguez and takes any chance he can to make below the belt remarks at the new staff. 

RichRod's OC wasn't exactly built like a Kenyon distance runner either. 


May 8th, 2012 at 12:12 PM ^

First post ever!! but this one gets me fired up.  I can't believe in the current sports environment we are even talking about going to less protection.  Let's be honest when talking about what this is really about.  As posted earlier, this is about NCAA hockey thinking this will somehow appeal to younger players, and make the guys stick with their tough guy hockey image.  All the other reasons that people give are just excuses.  Air flow..the feeling on your face..come on.  Those little steel bars are not restricting your air flow.  I played hockey through college, and the guys who went to halfies during the summer didn't have hard time switching back during season. Sure the first couple of days were weird, but after that you are used to it again.  You also enough high level players in the NCAA and other places with fish bowls to know that that there are good ways to keep the fog down. 

Most frustrating are some of the safety points they try to make about this.  If guys are getting cut under the masks, as stated by McGlaughlin, then they are wearing them like idiots.  Concussions should not even be a part of the discussion. That is about the frame of the helmet, and football has shown even that can't keep your head from bouncing off the skull.  If anything, having a chin pad keeping you jaw snug would help avoid concussions.  Keeping mouthguards around isn't going to fix that either, especially if you see the way those cut up their guards.  I am a dentist, and I wish I could say the guards will solve that issue, but they just don't.   Sure, people may be a little more careful with their sticks, but that doesn't do anything to stop the puck.  Sticks causes cuts and lead to stitches.  Pucks do lifetime damage.  With halfies, a lot of guys end up wearing them like visors, and that is more dangerous than no shield at all.  For them to bring up neck injuries seems a little ridiculous too.  Shields don't stop that, rule changes and penalties for boarding does. 

If the USHL hasn't had any major injuries yet, they will.  Look how close the issue of shields has come to ending a lot careers, Yzerman for example.  The NCAA should be smart about protecting these players livliehoods and worry less about being like juniors.